Smart Money Moves before 2016
by Maureen E. Hook, Ph.D.
At this time of year, one may reflect on financial matters and make resolutions to spend more advantageously in the New Year. However, there are some things one can still do to maximize one’s savings before the ball drops at the stroke of midnight in Times Square on January 1, 2016. According to Jonnelle Marte, a reporter covering personal finance for The Washington Post, there are 7 strategies which can be employed to enhance one’s portfolio during the month of December. A few of these strategies will be discussed here.
1) Prepay bills like a mortgage or college tuition in December to maximize savings on your 2015 tax return. Though not technically due until January, both of these things can be paid early. Ms. Marte quotes Kay Bell, a Bankrate.com tax specialist, regarding the prepaid mortgage. Paying early allows the mortgagor to increase the amount of interest deducted for that particular year. Paying college tuition a semester early permits one to be eligible for the American Opportunity Tax Credit. This provision is open to all those who spend up to $4,000 a year on certain education costs so they can receive a maximum annual credit of $2,500. The really good part is that, if no other taxes are owed, $1,000 of the credit can be paid to the taxpayer directly through their refund.
2) Enroll in a health insurance program if one has not already done so. The deadline to have coverage by January 1, 2016 is December 15, 2015 through state or federal exchanges. If one does not have health insurance of any type by January 1, 2016, there will be a tax penalty of $695 per adult or up to 2.5 percent of income, according to Mark Steber, a chief tax officer for Jackson Hewitt Tax Service. That’s an increase of $370 for the uninsured from last year. $695 is a hefty sum to pay and still not have any insurance. A health crisis without any insurance would just add to one’s woes.
3) Make charitable donations. The deadline for the donation to be recorded by the receiving organization and allow one to claim the deduction on 2015’s tax return is December 31. So it is probably not prudent to wait until Dec. 25 to make the contribution. Scott Bishop, director of financial planning for STA Wealth Advisors, recommends making the contribution as early in December as possible. One can also specify that it be deposited no later than Dec. 31 to ensure it can be counted as a gift on this year’s tax return.
If one is contemplating a large gift in the thousands of dollars but are not sure of which entities to give to, Mr. Bishop recommends creating a donor advised fund. Disbursements to organizations can be done at a later date, but they can still be counted as a charitable deduction for 2015.
For the other 4 smart money moves, please read Ms. Marte’s complete article at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/get-there/wp/2015/12/02/seven-money-moves-to-make-before-the-end-of the-year.
Ask Kit Kat – Cockatiels
Hook Law Center: Kit Kat, what can you tell us about cockatiels?
Kit Kat: Well, a vet I know says they are the perfect pet for people who want a bird. They are a medium-sized parrot, large enough for a child to hold, but not so large as to be off-putting. They are very social, and they do indeed remember their owners and their voices. Plus, they are relatively easy to care for, especially for those who have little time to invest in taking care of a pet. They do, however, need veterinary care just like a dog or a cat, with the frequency of visits similar to that of our canine and feline friends. Cockatiels as they age can develop kidney problems, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), and arthritis.
Cockatiels are extremely intelligent, and they can learn to do tricks and entertain. They train easily using a treat as reinforcement. Just search the internet for videos, and you will see how much fun they can be. They live on average 20 years, with nearly 30 years being the maximum ever recorded. So be prepared to make them a member of the family.
Cockatiels vary in color quite a bit. The majority of the wild type is grey and white with a yellow head and orange coloring on the cheeks. However, others do not follow this pattern. Eye and skin colors also differ among them. Some have red eyes, and some have either grey or pink feet. Whatever the color combination, they make a wonderful pet! (http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/5-things-you-dont-know-about-cockatiels) (11-24-15)
- January 20th, 2016 – Andrew Hook and Elizabeth Boehmcke will be speaking on “Protecting Assets from Nursing Homes and Medicaid” at Crowne Plaza Hotel, 4453 Bonney Road, Virginia Beach, VA 23462.
- January 21st, 2016 – Andrew Hook and Elizabeth Boehmcke will be speaking on “Protecting Assets from Nursing Homes and Medicaid” at Hilton Gardin Inn, 5921 Harbour View Blvd., Suffolk, VA 23435.
- February 15th, 2016 – Stephan Lipskis will be speaking on “Protecting the Money You Leave to Your Children from Their Divorce” at Crowne Plaza Hotel, 4453 Bonney Road, Virginia Beach, VA 23462.
- February 18th, 2016 – Stephan Lipskis will be speaking on “Protecting the Money You Leave to Your Children from Their Divorce” at Hilton Gardin Inn, 5921 Harbour View Blvd., Suffolk, VA 23435.
- March 14th, 2016 – Elizabeth Boehmcke will be speaking on “Protecting Your Children’s Inheritance” at Crowne Plaza Hotel, 4453 Bonney Road, Virginia Beach, VA 23462.
- March 15th, 2016 – Elizabeth Boehmcke will be speaking on “Protecting Your Children’s Inheritance” at Hilton Gardin Inn, 5921 Harbour View Blvd., Suffolk, VA 23435.
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